I may be going out on a limb here, but I believe most adults and youth know how to make ramen. Many of my backpacking buddies and scouts rely heavily on ramen because it is lightweight and cooks quickly in boiling water. In college, many of us lived on ramen (if we couldn’t afford mac & cheese). Some adults still live on ramen. Just sayin….
And, while we all love ramen as a quick, simple meal, it’s not a very well-rounded meal. That being said, it is a blank canvas for creating a great, nutritious, well-rounded meal.
For the photograph featured in this blog, I went to my kitchen to see what I could find. From the pantry, I pulled out a package of chicken ramen. I always have a bottle of sesame oil sitting on the counter. In the refrigerator, I found romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, baby carrots, green onion and a piece of leftover grilled chicken. I sliced the romaine and green onion, julienned the pepper and the carrot, and chopped the chicken.
I started the pan of water and added the seasoning packet and a couple dashes of sesame oil. From the fridge, I added a dash of lime juice, a dash of soy sauce, a dash of sriracha (okay, I’ll be honest; it was half a dash of sriracha). I also added a heaping teaspoon of miso paste and a little minced garlic. The leftover grilled chicken was heavily seasoned so I didn’t feel I needed to add any other seasonings. When the water came to a boil, I added the noodles, vegetables, and chicken, and let it all cook for 3 minutes.
As you can see from the photograph, I loaded my bowl. It was an awesome lunch for a typical cold, rainy Northwest day. For the first time in my life, I wanted to drink all the broth after I fished out all the goodies.
For my ramen fans, this would be so easy to do in camp and campers could even customize their bowls. At home before you go, prep a variety of vegetables (dice and julienne small so they will cook quickly), and decide on your flavorings and your protein (because they will influence each other). Pre-cook and dice your protein.
You could also make and pre-cook meatballs for a fun way to add protein to your ramen bowl. For meatball ideas, please see my blog post, “Make Your Own Meatballs.” Eggs are also a great protein to add to your ramen bowl. For ways to add an egg to your ramen bowl, please see my blog post: “Add an Egg to Your Ramen Bowl.”
In camp, set everything out and make your broth. You could further enhance your broth by using beef, chicken, or vegetable broth in place of the water. Each camper throws whatever they want into their bowl, including a package of noodles (folks will need good-sized bowls or you can break the ramen to make it fit). Get the broth up to a good rolling boil and then add a generous amount of broth to each bowl, cover the bowl, and let rest for 3 minutes. Done! Such an easy lunch and it is nutritious and will sustain you until dinner.
For backpacking, you could use freeze-dried and dehydrated meats and vegetables. Some of the flavorings like soy sauce and sriracha can be found in single-serve packets. We also found powdered sriracha in the spice section of our local grocery store.
Below is a list of ideas. Mix and match to your liking.
Egg (hard-boiled, soft-boiled, poached, fried, or drop)
Pork (ham, bacon, etc.)
Lemon or Lime Juice
Mung Bean Sprouts
Ramen may be one of the cheapest foods in the grocery store, but with a little imagination, it can be one of the most versatile staples in your home and camp pantry, and makes a great launching point for some fast, easy, nutritious meals.
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